The Archaeological Institute of America, Lynchburg Chapter, will host Bridget Buxton for a presentation about the excavation of a 4th Century roman ship in the Mediterranean Sea. The event is free and open to the public. Buxton is a professor of the University of Rhode Island.
At the height of the Empire, the Temple of Peace in Rome showcased an unparalleled collection of the classical world’s finest art. Today, the ancient city’s famous museum survives only in the works of Pliny the Elder and other ancient writers who described it. The Romans of Pliny’s day could never have anticipated that the greatest museum they would bequeath to the future lay not in the heart of Rome, but under the buried cities of Vesuvius. Yet it’s possible that over time and piece and piece, we will acquire an even greater treasury of Roman antiquities from the Mediterranean Sea; a collection formed quite by accident from centuries of shipwrecks. In 2016, the Israel Antiquities Authority in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island began the excavation of one such vessel, a gigantic fourth-century CE Roman merchantman carrying several tons of bronze sculptures, coins, marbles, glass, and the world’s largest collection of decorative Roman mirror frames. We will look at some of the stand-out and as yet unpublished discoveries of this ongoing project, and consider the broader landscape and possibilities of recovering more lost Roman artworks from the sea in the near future.